Having a stroke can be a strong fear for both an aging parent and an adult child providing care for their parent. A stroke occurs when blood flow to part of the brain is blocked or when a blood vessel breaks. That event can damage or kill cells in the brain.
Stroke can cause brain damage and is a leading cause of death and long-term disability in adults. As you care for your parent, you probably want to help your parent do whatever is needed to avoid a stroke. While there is no guarantee, there are several steps you can take to help reduce your parent’s chance of having a stroke. These are changes he can make personally, your family can help implement, or even his home care assistance provider can help encourage and reinforce.
Keep his blood pressure under control.
The leading risk factor in having a stroke is high blood pressure. High blood pressure doesn’t always have any symptoms, so your parent must regularly check his blood pressure. If your home care assistance provider provides rides to doctor appointments, ask your home care assistance provider to remind your parent to check his pressure with each visit.
If your parent has high blood pressure, then he may get prescribed some medication. Taking that medication regularly will keep his blood pressure under control, along with some diet changes. He may need some help and/or encouragement from you or his home care assistance provider to ensure he takes his medication as needed and avoids foods that elevate blood pressure.
Smoking has been shown to increase blood pressure. Your parent doubles his risk for a stroke by smoking. Whether he receives his nicotine from cigarettes or vaping, nicotine raises blood pressure, and carbon monoxide in smoke lowers the amount of oxygen his blood can carry. For those taking care of your aging parent, breathing in that secondhand smoke may increase their chances of a stroke.
Reduce alcohol intake
Too much alcohol can raise blood pressure, and binge drinking (having more than 5 drinks within a two-hour time span), can trigger an irregular heartbeat. Men should try to keep their alcohol intake to no more than two drinks a day. For women, it should be one or less.
Get some Exercise
Not getting regular exercise can lead to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol – all of which can increase the risk of a stroke in your elderly parent. If your parent isn’t used to getting daily exercise, start small. Encourage him to get 30-minutes of exercise a day. He doesn’t even have to do it all at once. He can surely do two 15-minute sessions. Have your parent take a few short walks a day. He can walk with his home care assistance provider, which is certainly a great way to get active.
Encourage your parent to stay away from high-fat foods and stick with a healthier diet. To sum up, a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables.
All these changes can certainly help your parent reduce his risk of stroke.